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Four Golden Knights Prospects Heading To World Juniors

It’s that time of year again. Well, now that the hockey schedule is back to normal.

Christmas time means World Juniors and this year’s tournament features plenty of intrigue for Golden Knights fans. Four VGK prospects are set to represent their countries in the 2023 edition of the IIHF World Junior Championships, and all four should play a big role for their respective teams.

Zach Dean
Canada

Vegas’ most recent 1st round pick has had a bit of a rocky road since being selected 30th overall in 2021. He took an injury early in Development Camp this summer which left us once again not getting to see much of him in a setting amongst his peers.

However, since he’s returned back to Gatineau he’s doing what you’d hope any 1st round pick would do. Dean has tallied 17 goals and racked up 18 assists in 27 games in the QMJHL and is certainly one of the best players on a pretty good team.

Dean was on the extended roster ahead of the last edition of this tournament but did not make the final roster. Now, he’s expected to play a fairly significant role as a bottom-six forward and penalty killer.

(Photo Credit: Rob Schneidmiller, Ice Time Southwest)

Jakub Brabenec
Czechia

One of the standouts from Development Camp this summer, the 19-year-old crafty winger will be an important offensive option for the Czechs. Brabenec has a knack for the net but is also a stellar passer of the puck. His numbers have slipped a bit this season in Charlottetown but a lot of that likely has to do with the overall strength of the team more so than his play.

Brabenec should play high up the Czech lineup and will be a key piece to the power play.

Matyas Sapovaliv
Czechia

Also playing for the Czechs is the Golden Knights’ highest pick in the most recent draft. Sapovaliv was excellent in the summer edition of World Juniors and he’s continued that strong play posting a point per game in the OHL this season.

Sapovaliv’s game is much more defensive-minded so points are not always going to come the way he plays. Expect the same in this tournament on a Czech team that has quite a bit of offensive talent. However, Matyas will likely find himself playing many of the tough minutes and taking on some of the hardest matchups. Plus, he’ll likely be a key penalty killer.

Team Czechia takes on Canada in the first game for each team, on December 26th.

Carl Lindbom
Sweden

Lindbom made Team Sweden’s roster at the last edition of the tournament but didn’t see a second of action. That’s not expected to be the case this time as he heads into the tournament as the presumptive starter. Lindbom has posted excellent numbers this season in Sweden’s 2nd league, HockeyAllsvenskan.

He’s touting a 15-6-0 record with four shutouts, a 1.76 goals against average, and a .936 save percentage. He’s on pace to have one of the best seasons as a U20 in that league’s history.

This will be a new experience for Golden Knights fans as VGK have never had a goalie prospect actually play consistently at World Juniors. A few Golden Knights goalie prospects have made their respective teams but never has one been handed the reigns as the starter to begin the tournament. Lindbom is expected to be between the pipes as Team Sweden open the tournament on December 26th against Austria.

Pair Of Golden Knights Prospects Collecting Trophies In QMJHL

(Photo Credit: Rob Schneidmiller, Ice Time Southwest)

The Golden Knights’ prospect pool has been starting to look a little barren over the course of the last few seasons. With the departures of multiple 1st round picks from the first five drafts and a host of players getting their opportunity in the NHL this season, there’s not a ton to get excited about.

However, two recent middle-round prospects are teammates and are both tearing up the QMJHL. 3rd round pick in 2020 Lukas Cormier and 4th round pick in 2021 Jakub Brabenec each had standout regular seasons for the Charlottetown Islanders and they are continuing on the success in the Q’s playoffs.

Cormier was named Defenseman of the Year and Brabenec took home both the Offensive Rookie of the Year and the overall Rookie of the Year awards.

This is the second consecutive year Cormier has claimed the Émile-Bouchard Trophy becoming the first player in league history to do so. The award’s history is full of standout NHL defensemen including Kris Letang, Thomas Chabot, Sam Girard, David Savard, and Keith Yandle.

The rookie awards won by Brabenec come with impressive alumni too. Sidney Crosby, Jakub Voracek, Nico Hischier, Alexis Lafreniere, and Nikolaj Ehlers have all claimed both of the awards in their first seasons in the QMJHL also. Former VGK waiver claim Valentin Zykov also won both awards back in 2012-13.

The smooth-skating offensive defenseman Cormier once again was a point-grabbing machine this season amassing 81 in 62 regular season games. He took a major step forward in the goal-scoring department this year more than doubling his career-high with 33 goals. In the playoffs, Cormier has not slowed down a bit tacking on four more goals and 12 points in nine postseason games.

Meanwhile, the high-IQ, creative, and skinny Brabenec, playing in his first season in North America, surpassed the point-per-game mark by tallying 64 in 58 contests. Like Cormier, his success has continued on into the playoffs where he has 10 assists in the Islanders’ nine games.

The Charlottetown Islanders currently lead their semifinal series 2-1 over the Sherbrooke Phoenix with Game 4 coming up tonight at 4 PM. You can stream the game live using the CHL’s official streaming site.

If Cormier and Brabanec’s Islanders win tonight or Wednesday, they’ll head to the QMJHL finals where they can earn a trip to this year’s Memorial Cup in late June.

2021 Golden Knights Draft Picks: Who Are These Guys?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After selecting Zach Dean with the 30th overall pick in the 1st round, the Golden Knights entered Day 2 with five picks. Here’s a quick rundown of what we know about each player selected by the Golden Knights in the 2021 NHL Draft.

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